Five reasons why Birmingham could make the playoffs

It’s been a whirlwind twelve months for Birmingham fans.

Around this time last year they sat in 23rd, looking doomed for relegation and on the back of an 8-0 defeat to Bournemouth were off to face Wolves then Watford.

They now sit pretty in 4th place after 10 games of the new season, with impressive wins at Leeds and at home to Reading under their belt.

Can they make the playoffs? Who knows, but here’s five reasons why they might.

1. Momentum

It’s a bit of a cliche to say that momentum is so important in football, but it is. It’s an unquantifiable commodity, but a commodity all the same. Rowett’s side have won consecutive away games 2-0 and are pretty free-scoring. The teamsheet is consistent and it allows the squad to build a rapport and an understanding. It’s not too dissimilar from Burnley’s successful season where though they had few stars, they had a system, a style and an understanding.

2. The Manager

Football fans are a bit guilty sometimes of putting too much onus on the manager, but it’s clear that Gary Rowett has an effect. He has Blues playing with an identity, a plan, and it’s often a successful one. He is yet to make a poor signing and if he can identify the talent again as he did at the end of last year, they can end as strongly as they’ve started.

3. David Cotterill

Much is made of young Demarai Gray, and don’t get me wrong, he is a wonderful talent, but Cotterill is a man who can dig the Blues out of a hole. He’s a frustrating player, as he’s massively talented but often lets himself down. However, his delivery and set-piece skill are crucial when the game is slipping away. If it’s 0-0 or 0-1, there’s few in the championship who you would like over a set-piece more than him. He has the ability to change tight games and in a league where margins are so fine, that can be extremely valuable.

4. Clayton Donaldson

The top assister in the league with five assists and four goals to boot, Donaldson is in the form of his life and as a lone striker, there’s an argument to be made that he is the best in the league. There will be plenty of disagreement, but few offer the same unselfish link-up and ability in transition as him. He is quick, unbelievably strong and intelligent, but with the ability to bring players like Gray, Jon Toral and David Cotterill into the game. He’s such an important player for Birmingham but if they can keep him fit he will be a major help to their play-off hopes.

5. A lack of pressure

When you look at Derby last year, who were expected to make automatic promotion, it seemed that the pressure weighed on the players and the manager and it affected them mentally, as they lost concentration a lot – notably at Pride Park when Birmingham came to town. 2-0 up became 2-2 in stoppage time, as Rowett’s side scored twice in three minutes. Blues don’t have that pressure – there’s some expectation, yes, but nothing like what sides like Middlesbrough, Burnley, QPR and Hull have. They can go under the radar and sneak into the playoffs.

Do you think Birmingham will make the playoffs? Let us know why, or indeed why not!

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